Nicolasfulks_donaldjerousek_theamazA simple rule of thumb for The Amazing Race: If a clue specifically tells you that a count of fences  doesn’t include gates or posts, that means you don’t count the gates and the posts. Oh and sometimes karma takes a couple days to get around to biting you on the rump.

[This isn’t a non-spoiler recap.]

Maybe I don’t believe that game-based karma impacts the results on The Amazing Race, but I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that general cosmic karma plays a role in everything we do.

So maybe Jennifer and Shana weren’t eliminated on Sunday (Dec. 2) night’s Amazing Race because they used a U-Turn on a team that was an hour behind them anyway. I’ll grant that the girls could seriously have thought that TK and Rachel were Jason and Lorena, so they don’t deserve karmic payback for that. But maybe they deserved karmic payback for their catty jokes about the smell of the trains in Africa or for Shana’s various vapid and superficial comments throughout. In fact, this was one of those situations where I kind of wish that one partner didn’t have to go (Sorry, Jennifer), but where the other partner badly deserved a kick in the pants from The Fates.

Shanawall_jennifermccall_theamazingFrom the beginning to the end, Jennifer and Shana did just about everything wrong this episode, an hour that began with Jennifer still feeling guilt about the U-Turn (Shana? No guilt). They proceeded to alienate the other teams for no reason at the Burkina Faso ticket counter, then they couldn’t find their cars at the airport in Lithuania, then Shana didn’t know how to use a map and refused to listen to Jennifer’s suggestion that perhaps asking for directions might help, then they nearly got hit by a bus, then they had a disagreement over who listened best for the Road Block and finally they couldn’t come to a consensus on how to count the spokes of the fence. You knew they were done when Shana wailed, "You just go ahead and count it and if we’re wrong, it’s all on you." It didn’t help that Jennifer ignored the clue and kept counting the posts and gates, but they were generally a picture of overall dysfunction, so I was relieved Phil Keoghan didn’t say this was a non-elimination leg.

By the standard of dysfunctional karma, Nate and Jen are probably next to go, as everybody’s favorite stature-mismatched duo had another week of passive-aggressive and active-aggressive bickering. It was sad, too, because they started off pretty low key, but if ever a pair were incapable of handling adversity, it’s these two. After getting lost driving through the streets of Vilnius (courtesy of Jen’s poor map-reading), their yelling culminated with Nate yelling, "I just can’t believe what kind of person you turn into. It’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life." I’m at least glad he didn’t add, "So much uglier than the other women in this competition!" As bad as that was, the counting part got worse, with the combination of Jen’s declaration that she was great at counting — Are people better or worse at counting? — and Nate’s inability to count in his head (she also failed to read the clue). They escaped by doing the stilt-walking part of the detour.

Of course, the dysfunctional karma thing goes out the window if you look at what happened to Nicolas and Donald who went from first to last over the course of a single Road Block because Nick couldn’t find somebody who spoke English and knew the location of a hair salon. That was pathetic, but it wasn’t a factor of the relatives fighting or of Nicolas’ reticence to share travel information.

Other thoughts on this week’s episode:

  • I’m glad they finally got out of Burkina Faso and I appreciated the number of possible flights to Lithuania. The teams traveled on three different flights once they got to Paris, but ultimately that didn’t make a lick of difference. The difference was that one turn in Vilnius, where the teams that went right got a huge advantage and the teams that went left were thrown for a loop. Turning right plus finding a neighborhood-savvy local guide helped TK and Rachel move into first place.
  • Line of the week: Upon arrival at the local folk festival — complete with costumes, dancing and freaks on stilts — Kynt said, "Vyxsin and I love to play dress-up and were surrounded by kindred souls. It made us feel normal." It’s hard not to admire their competitive spirit and their overall attitude.
  • Exchange of the week: "I love you, Dad" "Lithuanians make some great pastries as I understand it." But Christina and Ronald appear to be doing a little better. He gets some credit for battling on with that hernia, though I have no idea of why they didn’t count instead of stilting at the Detour.

    I’ve gotta run. What’d y’all think of this week’s episode?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg